Istanbul: Is it Safe to Travel There at the Moment?
Istanbul is unique for many reasons, not least because it is the only city in the world that straddles two continents – Europe and Asia. You can cross the huge Bosphorus Bridge and be in a different continent within seconds, it’s quite something.
Because of this, Istanbul is the perfect blend of east meets west.
The first thing you will probably notice about Istanbul is the noise, the size, and just how pretty it is to the eye. It can be a little daunting at first, simply because of the sheer sprawling mass of the city, whether you’re based on the European side or the Asian side. Most the tourist sites are on the European side, however a visit to the Asian side should certainly be recommended.
Once you find your hotel, it’s time to explore!
The Metro is the easiest way to get around the city, as the taxis will probably try and take you on the scenic, and more costly, route! The Sultanahmet district is where you’ll find the famous and truly stunning Blue Mosque, and across from this you will find Hagia Sofia. Now, to look at the two famous buildings from the outside, you’d head straight to the Blue Mosque, because it is stunning from the outside (as well as the inside), and Hagia Sofia looks quite run down in comparison. However, one step inside Hagia Sofia had the breath knocked from my lungs. This is quite simply the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. Where Islam and Christianity comes together, Hagia Sofia is so peaceful and so beautiful, it is worth every single bit of the 10TL entrance fee.
Sultanahmet is also home the huge and maze-like Grand Bazaar, as well as Topkapi Palace. Don’t worry if you get lost in the Grand Bazaar, I’m told that even the locals still can’t really find their way through it! This is a colourful, loud, and intoxicating experience, and you’ll have plenty of chances to practice your haggling skills.
Taksim is the next large neighbourhood you will probably want to head to, and this is a little more modern compared to the olde-worlde feel to Sultanahmet. This is where you’ll find most of the night-life and big restaurants, not to mention countless Starbucks and McDonalds! Taksim Square is quite historic, and a few moments should definitely be spent there, before heading to Istiklal Street, and jumping on the rather perilous red tourist tram that runs the length of the street.
Istanbul is also home to three of Turkey’s biggest football teams, namely Fenerbache, Galatasaray, and Besiktas. If you can manage to get tickets for a game, then do it, because you will not find an atmosphere the same anywhere else in the world!
For a break from the bustling city life of Istanbul, head to the ferry port and cross the Bosphrous. Seagulls will circle overhead, and feeding the gulls bread is part of the tourist experience. The bridge itself also changes colour at certain times of the day, and is one for the camera.
There is far too much to mention about Istanbul here, but put simply, it is one place that everyone should visit at least once. Cultural, colourful, and mysterious at times, Istanbul is where you will get a true taste of Turkish life, something that is friendly, open, and intoxicating.